Imágenes de páginas

came. But when they found we did not, but took the common way, they, angry that they were disappointed, and loath to lose their pur. pose, which was to put an abuse upon us, coast. ed over to us in the dark, and laying hold on the horses bridles, stopt them from going on. My father asking his man what the reason was that he went not on, was answered, that there were two men at the horses heads, who held them back and would not suffer them to go forward.': Whereupon my father, opening the boot, stept out, and I followed close at his heels. Going up to the place where the men stood, he demanded of them the reason of this assault. They said we were upon the corn. We knew by the routs, we were not on the corn, but in the common way, and told them so. But they told us, they were resolved they would not let us go on any farther, but would make us go back again. My fa- · ther endeavoured, by gentle reasoning; to persuade them to forbear, and not run themselves farther into the danger of the law, which they were run too far into already ; but they rather derided him for it. Seeing there. fore fair means would not work upon them, he spake more roughly to them, charging them to deliver their clubs, for each of them had a great club in his hand, somewhat like those which are called quarter staves. They thereupon, laughing, told him, they did not bring them thither for that end. There

upon my father, turning his head to me, said, Tom, disarm them.

I stood ready at his elbow, waiting only for the word of comniand. For being naturally of a bold spirit, full then of youthful heat; and that too heightened by the sense I had, not only of the abuse, but insolent behaviour of those rude fellows, my blood began to boil, and my fingers itched, as the saying is, to be dealing with them. Wherefore, stepping boldly forward to lay hold on the staff of him that was nearest to ine, I said, sirrah, deliver your weapon. He thereupon raised his club (which was big enough to have knocked down an ox) intending, no doubt, to have knocked me down with it; as probably he would have done, had I not, in the twinkling of an eye, whipped out my rapier, and made a pass upon him. I could not have failed running of him through up to the hilt, had he stood his ground: but the sudden, and unexpected sight of my bright blade, glittering in the dark night, did so amaze and terrify the man, that slipping aside, he avoided my thrust; and letting his staff sink, betook himself to his heels for safety ; which his companion see. ing, fied also. I followed the former as fast as I could : but timor addidit, alas, fear gave him wings, and made him swiftly fiy : so that

although I was accounted very nimble, yet • the farther we ran, the more ground he gained on me; so that I could not overtake him : which made me think he took shelter under

some bush; which he knew where to find, though I did not. Meanwhile the coachman (who had sufficiently the outside of a man) excused himself from intermeddling, under pretence that he durst not leave his horses : and so left me to shift for myself. And I was gone so far beyond my knowledge, that I understood not which way I was to go, till by hallowing, and being hallowed to again, i was directed where to find my company.

We had easy means to have found out who these men were, the principal of them having been in the day time at the inn, and both quarelled with the coachman, and threatened to be even with him when he went back : but since they came off no better in their attempt, my father thought it better not to know them, than to oblige himself to a prosecution of them.

At that time, and for a good while after, I had no regret upon my mind for what I had done, and designed to have done in this case ; but went on, in a sort of bravery, resolving to kill, if I could, any, man that should make the like attempt, or put any affront upon us : and for that reason, seldom went afterwards upon those public services, without a loaded pistol in my pocket. But when it pleased the Lord, in his infinite goodness, to call me out of the spirit and ways of the world, and give me the knowledge of his saving truth; whereby the actions of my forepast life were set in order before me, a sort of horror siezed om me, when I considered how near I had been

to the staining of my hands with human blood. And whensoever afterwards I went that way, and indeed as often since as the matter has come into my remembrance, my soul has blessed the Lord for my deliverance; and thanksgivings and praises have arisen in my heart (as now, at the relating of it, they do) to him who preserved, and with-held me from shedding man's blood.

Which is the reason for which I have given this account of that action, that others may be warned by it.

1658. About this time my dear and hon. oured mother departed this life, who was indeed a woman of singular worth and virtue; she having a little before heard of the death of her eldest son, who falling under the displeasure of my fatlier, for refusing to resign his interest in an estate which my father sold, and thereupon desired that he might have leave to travel, in hopes that time and absence might work a reconciliation, went into Ireland, with a person powerful there in those times, by whose means he was quickly prefered to a place of trust and profit, but lived not long to enjoy it.

I mentioned before, that during my father's abode in London, in the time of the civil wars, he contracted a friendship with the Lady Springett, then a widow, and afterwards niar. ried to Isaac Penington, Esq; to continue which, he sometimes visited them at their country.lodgings, as at Datchet, and at Causham lodge near Reading. And having heard

[ocr errors]

that they were come to live upon their own estate at Chalfont, in Buckinghamshire, about fifteen miles from Crowell, he went one day to visit them there, and to return at night; taking me with him.

1659. But very much surprised we were, when, being come thither, we first heard, then found they were become Quakers; a people we had no knowledge of, and a name' we had, till then, scarce heard of.

So great a change, from a free, debonair and courtly sort of behaviour, which we for. merly had found them in, to so strict a gravi. ty as they now received us with, did not a lit. tle amuse, us, and disappoint our expectation of such a pleasant visit as we used to have, and had now promised ourselves. Nor could my father have any opportunity, by a private conference with them, to understand the ground or occasion of this change; there bé, ing some other strangers with them, related to Isaac Penington, who came that morning from London to visit them also.

For my part, I sought, and at length found means to cast myself into the company of the daughter, whom I found gathering some flowers in the garden, attended by her maid, who was also a Quaker. But when I addressed myself to her after my accustomed manner, with intention to engage her in some discourse, which might introduce conversation on the foot of our former acquaintance; though she treaterk me with a courteous mien, yet, as

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »